Studying abroad offers flexibility


For students who feel that fast food tacos constitute as authentic Mexican food, K-State offers opportunities to experience real south of the border food, Italian food or food from just about anywhere else in the world. K-State’s Study Abroad Office assists students in navigating study abroad options and trip knowledge and safety before, during and after a study abroad experience.

“I know that a lot of K-State students have not traveled a lot before, or been out of the country,” said Karli Webster, director of K-State’s study abroad program. “But studying abroad is a great way to meet new people, and experience a new culture.”

It is required that all K-State students participating in an international program goes through the Study Abroad Office. This is to ensure students have proper international health insurance and pre-departure information. In addition, the staff monitors worldwide events and will assist students if a natural disaster, political uprising, or other situation occurs in a country while they are studying abroad.

While students are required to work through the Study Abroad Office, there are many affiliate programs to choose from.

“We have a number of affiliate partners, and students can choose any of those types of options. As long as it is a program we work with, and they fill out all the necessary paperwork, they will meet your requirements,” Webster said.

One option available for students is faculty-led study abroad opportunities. According to the Study Abroad Office website, faculty-led trips “are focused by topic and include Kansas State University course credit, organized activities and cultural encounters.”

Emily Gerling, sophomore in anthropology and history, is currently preparing to travel on a faculty-led study abroad trip to Sienna, Italy this June. The trip will be led by Christopher Renner, Italian language professor.

“I knew at some point in my college experience I would want, and have to, travel abroad, but I never really knew where or when,” Gerling said. “Having the experience of going abroad under your belt can be advantageous when looking for jobs outside of college in my field. I also want to have an adventure of my own and be able to go to school in a place where I’m uncomfortable and to make some fun memories along the way.”

Gerling started her study abroad process a year ago. Overall, Gerling said she has had a good experience with the Study Abroad Office.

“The K-State Study Abroad Office has been amazing with answering questions I have in regards to plane tickets, school programs and classes, and just general questions I have,” Gerling said. “I have benefited from working with the Study Abroad Office because they are helping me through each and every step of the process: deadlines, tuition, things like that.”

Students like Gerling can work with peer advisors through the Study Abroad Office. The student advisors are K-State students who have taken trips abroad in the past. They work with students to find the best program for traveling abroad, answer questions, and serve as a mentor.

Logan Gauby, senior in general human ecology and family studies and human services, works as a peer advisor. He has traveled to Europe, and recently took a trip to Kenya to work on a project through the Children and Youth Empowerment Centre and YMCA called the Drop-In Center.

“I think that you have an entirely new world of opportunities when you study abroad,” Gauby said. “There is a new world of opportunities I’ve gotten that I would not have had beforehand. It also helps you become more independence and helps to prepare you for the real world.”

Gauby encouraged students who are cautious about an experience abroad to learn more.

“If they are worried about leaving their comfort zone, there are lots of options. We have programs providers who have that security. They can travel with other English speaking students if they are worried about language barriers,” Gauby said. “It’s definitely something everyone should look in to. You never really know what is out there until you look into it.”

Both Gauby and Webster encouraged students concerned with the financial aspect of traveling abroad to investigate the options.

“Studying abroad can be very affordable,” Webster said. “There are programs that are exchange programs where students pay tuition and fees at (Kansas) resident rates (for K-State) for 15 credits for a semester. That keeps it at the same rate.”

There are also scholarships available through the Study Abroad Office. Many university departments and private donors also offer scholarships. In addition, most general financial aid and some grants can be applied toward the cost of the trip, Webster said.

For students with renewable scholarships, funding will typically not stop if a student takes a year to study abroad. A student will continue to receive the renewable scholarship as long as all requirements are met, Webster said. She has not encountered any students losing a renewable scholarship because they chose to study abroad.

Webster believed that students who chose to study abroad will experience a variety of positive opportunities both abroad and when they return.

“It’s a great way to improve language acquisition. Total immersion is a great way to learn a new language,” Webster said. “It will also set you apart from others in the job market or the perspective internship market. It shows that you are willing to step out of your comfort zone.”

Webster also encouraged students to pursue traveling abroad during college instead of waiting until later in life.

“It’s a great time to do it. A lot of college students don’t want to be away from friends or the college atmosphere for a long time, but a comment I hear from a lot of people is that if they didn’t study abroad in college, they wish they would have. They realize how much easier it would have been in college than when they have graduated, and have a full time job or a family,” Webster said.

Students can work with a peer advisor at the Study Abroad Office to explore available options and programs. Students can also investigate available options at the Study Abroad website,